alumni

Woody Hoburg is 2017 R&D 100 Innovator of the Year

EECS alumnus Warren “Woody” Hoburg (MS'11, Ph.D.'13) was named R&D Magazine’s 2017 Innovator of the Year at the 55th annual R&D 100 Awards last Friday.  Hoburg recently left  his position as an assistant professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT when he was selected by NASA to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class.  At MIT, Hoburg led a team that created an inexpensive, unpiloted aerial vehicle (UAV) that can keep itself aloft for more than five days — longer than any gasoline-powered autonomous aircraft has remained in flight. The technology, which has a variety of applications including providing wide-ranging communications support in the event of a natural disaster, is currently under development for the U.S. Air Force.

C. L. Hoang publishes "Rain Falling on Tamarind Trees"

A  new book, Rain Falling on Tamarind Trees, by EE alumnus C. L. Hoang (M.S. '82), is set to be released by Willow Stream Publishing tomorrow.  Hoang was born and raised in Vietnam during the war and came to the US in the 1970s.  He wrote this travelogue about his experiences returning to his ancestral homeland for the first time, in 2016, after a decades-long absence.   He still makes his living as an engineer--he holds 11 patents--and says that his engineering training helped him hone his organizational skills and develop an analytical eye for details as well as a love for research.  His first book, Once upon a Mulberry Field, is a historical novel set in Vietnam during the height of the war.

Sanjay Mehrotra named Vice Chair of SIA

Alumnus Sanjay Mehrotra (EECS B.S. '78/M.S. '80) has been named the 2018 Vice Chair of the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA).  The SIA is a trade association and lobbying group positioned as "the voice of the U.S. semiconductor industry."  Mehrotra, who is currently CEO of Micron, led the growth of SanDisk Corporation from start-up in 1988 to Fortune 500 company in 2016.  He holds 70 patents and has published articles on nonvolatile memory design and flash memory systems.

(photo: L. Brian Stauffer)

Andreas Cangellaris named UI provost

EE alumnus Andreas Cangellaris (Ph.D. '85) will be the next provost of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the first person to hold the job on a permanent basis in more than two years.  Cangellaris joined the UI engineering faculty in 1997 and has been Dean of the College of Engineering since 2013, administering a college with more than 7,500 undergraduate, 3,000 graduate students, and an annual budget of $265 million. During his tenure as dean, the number of women and traditionally underrepresented undergraduate students increased by more than 55 percent.  "The potential is tremendous, the promise is great. I think overall the campus is ready to take a leadership role in public higher education in the 21st century, and to have the opporunity to be in a leadership position at that level is an honor," he said.  Cangellaris will start his new job on Jan. 16, pending approval by UI trustees on Thursday.

Diane Greene shares insight at Dreamforce conference

CS alumna Diane Greene (M.S. '88) sat down with Ginni Rometty and Marc Benioff at the Dreamforce conference last week to talk about women leaders in tech.  Greene, who is currently the CEO of Google Cloud, started out designing offshore oil structures and systems before becoming a software engineer.  She founded several successful companies, most notably VMware, which created the market for virtualization.  She and Rometty, who is the CEO of IBM, stand among the ranks of the tech giants of industry--almost all of whom are men.   They discussed their careers, leadership philosophies, and how they approach their responsibilites as women in power.

Wu-Fu Chen elected to Crown Bioscience Board of Directors

CS alumnus Wu-Fu Chen (Ph.D. '77) has been elected to the Board of Directors of Crown Bioscience Inc., a global drug discovery and development company.  Chen is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Acorn Campus Ventures and Partner Emeritus at Mobility Ventures LLC.  He started more than a dozen companies, including Cascade Communications (IPO in Nasdaq, $10B) and Xinwei Telecom (IPO in China, near $30B).  Forbes Magazine ranked Chen as one of the Top 100 Venture Investors in the U.S. and he was recognized by Red Herring magazine as one of the “Top Ten Entrepreneurs of 2000”.   He has been featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal and was once called the “Most Influential Person” in optical networking by Light Reading magazine.

Chancellor Gary May (Jesse Steshenko / Aggie)

Gary May confirmed as UC Davis chancellor

The Investiture of EECS alumnus Gary May (M.S. ’88 and Ph.D. ’92) as the seventh chancellor of UC Davis took place on Oct. 27 in the Mondavi Center, the first event in UC Davis’ annual Homecoming weekend.  May was presented with the Chancellor’s Medal by UC President Janet Napolitano, officially inaugurating him into his new position.  One of May's plans will be to develop Aggie Square — a technology and innovation hub in Sacramento.  “With diversity comes a wider and more interesting range of experiences, ideas, opinions and perceptions,” he said. “The greater the mix, the more likely we will make discoveries and solve problems — the hallmark of academic excellence.”

David Sontag named to GNS Healthcare Strategic Advisory Board

CS alumnus David Sontag (B.A. '05), now an assistant professor of EECS at MIT, has been appointed to the Strategic Advisory Board of GNS Healthcare, one of the world's leading precision medicine companies.  Sontag is also the Hermann L.F. von Helmholtz Career Development Professor in the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES), and principal investigator in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT.  "GNS Healthcare's approach is at the forefront of machine learning, working to truly unlock the full potential of patient data to determine the best available therapy and treatment options. I look forward to working closely with the GNS team and the Strategic Advisory Board," said Sontag.

Illustration by John Cuneo for The Atlantic

Barbara Simon's fight for paper ballots

CS alumna Barbara Simons (Ph.D. '81) is the subject of an article in The Atlantic titled "The Computer Scientist Who Prefers Paper," which explores her conviction that there is only one safe voting technology: paper ballots.  Simons, a pioneer at IBM Research, spent years trying to warn the public of problems with electronic voting systems--which she claimed were shoddy and hackable  She remained resolute, despite heavy criticism and a great deal of political pressure, until Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election became public and perceptions about her changed.  “Many of the leading opponents of paperless voting machines were, and still are, computer scientists, because we understand the vulnerability of voting equipment in a way most election officials don’t," she said. "The problem with cybersecurity is that you have to protect against everything, but your opponent only has to find one vulnerability.”

Jinwen Xiao and the culture of Silicon Labs

EE alumna Jinwen Xiao (Ph.D. '03), now a senior director of engineering at Silicon Laboratories in Austin, Texas, is featured in a My Statesman article titled "Silicon Labs focuses on ‘mature, respectful’ workplace environment."  A computer chip design company, Silicon Labs ranks No. 1 among large employers in the American-Statesman’s 2017 Top Workplaces of Greater Austin project.  Xiao, who was born in China, now heads the 'Internet of Things' product development team of more than 40 people who come from 11 different countries.  The company places a priority on the intellectual development of its employees, providing a mentorship program and encouraging professional expansion.  It also actively fosters a culture of international inclusion and cooperation,  providing support and legal services for employees affected by the Muslim travel ban. "That is part of why this is a great place to work," Xiao says. "The company takes care of its people.”